Wednesday 27th December
Saints and Ross County fought out a 1-1 draw at The Global Energy Stadium this evening.
Saints took the lead within 80 seconds of the match getting underway as Denny Johnstone headed home from a David Wotherspoon cross.
However, the home side equalised on 54 minutes when Alex Schalk converted from the spot after Chris Millar had been deemed to have fouled Chris Eagles in the box.
Both sides worked tirelessly in an end-to-end second half however, never side could get that elusive second goal and had to settle for a point each. Tonight’s result sees Saints move back into the top six, leapfrogging Kilmarnock, who were not in action tonight after their game at Hamilton Accies had been postponed.
Saints headed north this evening to take on Owen Coyle’s Ross County at The Global Energy Stadium. Tommy Wright made three changes to the side that started Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Hearts at McDiarmid Park as David Wotherspoon, Michael O’Halloran and Steven MacLean came in for Blair Alston, Paul Paton and Stefan Scougall. Ross County came into tonight’s game looking to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday so Owen Coyle made two changes to his starting line-up. Out went Ross Draper and Billy McKay to be replaced by Michael Gardyne and Alex Schalk.
Saints got the match underway and within 80 seconds they were ahead as David Wotherspoon’s cross from the left picked out the unmarked Denny Johnstone who powered a header past keeper Scott Fox from close range.
Despite the early setback Ross County tried to find a quick response and on 9 minutes they were awarded a corner after Kenny Van Der Weg’s cross was turned behind by Richard Foster. The corner was taken by Chris Eagles and he floated a ball into the box which picked out Andrew Davies at the back post whose downward headed was well saved by Zander Clark. Then 2 minutes later Craig Curran saw his effort from 20 yards go wide of Clark’s goal.
Saints were showing confidence on the ball and on 22 minutes Chris Millar had a shot from distance that went well over. Then 2 minutes later Michael O’Halloran went on a mazy run before having a shot from distance that was deflected for a corner. David Wotherspoon floated a ball in from the corner and it picked out Steven Anderson who rose to head the ball down however, the County defence reacted to the danger and cleared their lines.
The home side were still a threat as and on the half hour mark a Van Der Weg cross from the left picked out Michael Gardyne whose header went inches over.
Then on 34 minutes the home side hit Saints in the break as the ball was knocked out wide by Alex Schalk to Eagles and the midfielder then raced into the Saints box before crossing however, the Saints defence got back to clear the danger. Play then very quickly switched to the other end as Saints broke forward and Wotherspoon had a shot from the edge of the box that was saved at the second attempt by Fox.
Ross County made one change at the start of the second half as Jamie Lindsay came on for Andrew Davies.
4 minutes into the second half Saints had the ball in the net as Michael O’Halloran cut in from the right and whipped the ball across goal which was turned in by Steven MacLean however, the goal was disallowed as the Saints striker was deemed to have been offside.
Then on 53 minutes there was a game changing moment as the home side were awarded a penalty when Millar tackled Eagles on the edge of the box. It had looked like the tackle on had taken place just outside the box however referee Greg Aitken thought otherwise and awarded County the penalty. Alex Schalk stepped up to take the kick and he calmly sent Clark the wrong way to draw the home side level.
Saints were looking for a quick response and on 57 minutes Richard Foster raced into the box before slipping the ball to Johnstone whose shot was blocked by a County defender. The loose ball then fell to Wotherspoon whose shot was also blocked as the home side cleared their lines.
After drawing level, the home side now had some confidence and they came very close to grabbing a second on 67 minutes as Schalk’s shot went across the face of the Saints goal with Curran inches away from making a connecting at the back post.
Then on 74 minutes there was an incredible stramash in the Saints box as Jason Naismith had a shot which was cleared off the line by Foster, Schalk’s shot from the rebound hit the post and then Billy McKay had two shots brilliantly saved by Clark.
Ross County kept on pressing and on 79 minutes substitute Davis Keillor-Dunn had a shot that went inches’ over.
As the match entered the closing stages both sides had chances to snatch all three points. Firstly, County got their chance when McKay flicked the ball onto Gardyne who cut inside and unleashed a left footed shot that hit the side netting.
Then deep into added on time Saints were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box when Millar was fouled by Tim Chow, who was shown a yellow card. The free kick was taken by Craig however; he couldn’t get his effort on target as both sides had to settled for a share of the spoils.
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, Naismith, Routis, Gardyne, Chow, Schalk, Curran (McKay 71), Davies (Lindsay 45), Van Der Weg, Eagles (Keillor-Dunn 60)
Unused Substitutes: McCarey (GK), Dow, Mikkelsen, O’Brien
Booked: Lindsay, Chow
Scorer: Schalk (54 pen)
Saints: Clark, Tanser, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Millar, MacLean, Wotherspoon (Alston 83), O’Halloran, Johnstone (Cummins 71), Foster, Craig
Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), McClean, Scougall, Gordon, Easton
Booked: Tanser, Foster
Scorers: Johnstone (2)
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Denny Johnstone heads Saints into the lead
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